Sitting in the park, holding hands, while watching ducks, geese and children play.
Your words tickle my ears, ever so sweetly.
But they soon fly away…
Promises spoken in the wind.
Sitting in the park, holding hands, while watching ducks, geese and children play.
Your words tickle my ears, ever so sweetly.
But they soon fly away…
Promises spoken in the wind.
On the wall, facing my bed was movie poster sized picture of Marilyn Monroe.
A beautiful sad, dead woman.
Every morning, I awakened, sat up in my bed, and looked into the face of a beautiful, sad, dead woman.
I started my day.
One morning, I awaked, sat up in my bed, and looked into the face of a beautiful, sad, dead woman, and I no longer wanted to start my day with her.
I removed her from my bedroom, and from my home.
The next morning, I awakened, I sat up in my bed, turned to my mirror, and looked into the face of a beautiful, vibrant, alive woman.
I started my day.
Luke 13: “10And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. 12And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. 13And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.”
This scripture hit me because it is timeless. There are so many ways that life can bend us, tear us down, break us apart. What we do to ourselves is bad enough, but to have to carry the garbage that other people throw on us, we have to have strong backs, or we will bend.
The scripture doesn’t give an age of the woman. As I thought about the amount of time, “eighteen years”, I thought something: What if she was only 23 years old? What if some man in her community or family touched her inappropriately, at the age of five? What if she grew up shunned, an outcast? Bent from the age of five years old? Emotionally, bent.
According to the time and customs, she could have married at 12 or 13, and is now 30 years old. She’s been abused by her husband, beat up and beat down, his words hitting her like slaps in the face, and fists pounding her. No one to save her, and no one to turn to, suppose she’s ridiculed by the other women and disrespected by her own sons? She bends.
Or, what if she’s in her forties, and the weight of what she experienced as a child, and young woman has taken its toll on her and just slowly bent her. It’s something that has been progressing for many years. Maybe her husband died, her kids have left her, and she is alone, lonely. Her life has not been a happy one, and she’s tired. She’s given into the bend.
But something else struck me as well. What if, she has raised her own kids, now she is raising the next generations. Her sons and daughters were out in the world, not taking responsibility for the lives they’ve created, dropping them off for days which turned into weeks, months and years. This older woman raised her grandchildren, who in turn repeated the patterns of their parents. Now, this old woman is raising her great-grandchildren. She bent under too much pressure.
Maybe she has health issues, or financial issues, and they’ve just weighed her down, bent her forward. She’s bitter, angry, she has nothing nice or pleasant to say to anyone, or about anyone. Maybe she’s afraid to try new things, she’s been the way she is for so long, that she sees nothing new for herself. So many different things can pile on us, weigh us down, keep us unmotivated to stand.
Verse 11 says: she…“was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself”, meaning she couldn’t straighten up on her own. I looked at pictures of bows and arrows. The bows were not all the same, some were small, large, curved in an arc, some had two or three curves, some were bent with a point. There were so many different kinds of bows, just as there are so many different kinds of bowed women. Being bowed is not just relative to a certain class or breed, creed or color. Rich women kill themselves, just as poor ones do. The woman who seems to have everything is envious of the woman who seems to have nothing. The woman who is dressed like a million bucks, sometimes has no money in her Prada bag. A bowed spirit can bend anyone.
This bent woman goes to hear Jesus speak. It’s crowded, nobody’s paying attention to her. She’s not even worthy of a name, so they don’t speak to her. She’s the “bent over woman”. She can only see feet, no one bothers to bend down to see her face, children are probably mean to her. She’s in the way, and she knows it. So she makes her way to the back of the crowd. She just wants to hear Jesus. But in the crowd, in the midst, she stands out. Jesus sees her, and calls her to Him. It would have been so much easier if He had walked to her, but He makes this overlooked woman, the star of the show. Now everybody sees her, they have to make an opening for her. She has to make her way through the crowd to the One who called her. The One who chose her. The One she came to see, wants to see her. When everyone else turned their backs; mocked her; laughed at her; didn’t want to look at her; couldn’t be bothered with her, Jesus called her!
So! While looking at the pictures, I noticed that there was no way to straighten any of the bows, you will actually break it if you tried to straighten it, because it’s not willing to give of itself, it’s not yielding to change, it’s not pliable. If bows are to be made straight, they have to be broken down, reformed, reshaped, rebuilt.
“12And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. 13And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.”
Jesus just wants us to come to Him, to trust Him, to lean into Him. He just wants a chance to rebuild us, reform us, reshape us. To love us. He said, in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” He wants us to stand and shake it off! Glorify God.
You already know, when God starts working in our lives, somebody, somewhere, has something to say.
“14And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.” He’s not speaking to Jesus directly, but making a side comment to the congregation.
“15The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?” In other words, “don’t you take your ox and your donkey to get water? Aren’t you doing some type of work on the Sabbath?
“16And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?” Jesus is saying that Satan has had a hold on this woman for 18 years, if your ox can drink water on the Sabbath, why can’t she be healed? And he calls her a daughter of Abraham, meaning that because of her faith, she is entitled to receive the promise of the Spirit.
“17And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.” Jesus went on about his business of healing, and telling the people about the goodness of God.
So I say to you, Daughter of Abraham, one entitled to the promise. You have a right to be loosed from your chains. You have a right to stand. You have a right to be joyful. You have a right to love. There are young women watching you, let them see you stand in the glory of God. Yes, there will be scars, circumstances, and disappointments, but you are healed! Our God is mighty to save! There is nothing too hard for Him, give it to him. Stand up! If Jesus conquered the grave, what more can He do in your life?
During a recent message, my pastor told the church that in order to start healing, we had to go back to the origin of the pain. I thought my point of origin was when my mother left my brothers and I, and moved to Washington, DC. I thought that was when I was abandoned; but that’s not true. I tried to feel the angst that should have come with the thought, but it wasn’t there. Instead I found the real hurt of abandonment happened with my mother right there in the house with me.
One summer evening, when I was about 7 or 8, my brothers and I were outside playing with the children of one of my mother’s friends. Somehow I fell, and cut my knee pretty badly; it required 9 stitches. I still have the scar. When it came time to have the stitches removed, I was fine, until, the nurse picked up the surgical scissors; she held them in her grip as though she meant to stab, not cut. The fear in my life was unspeakable. I refused to allow the procedure to take place. I fought with everything in me not to be stabbed by this deranged looking nurse. My uncle was a college football player, and he was called in the room to lie across my chest, in an effort to keep me still. I remember lifting him up off of me. I believe I had the strength of someone on PCP. When it was all over, the nurse was a sweaty pulp, my uncle was out of breath, and I was very angry. When we went through the waiting room, little children were crying, being held by their mothers, their mothers looked afraid, as well. My mother, my uncle, nor I spoke of what we had just experienced.
When we got home, I remember asking my mother for some juice. She didn’t respond. I didn’t understand her not responding, so I repeated the request, a couple of times. My mother did not speak to me for two weeks. She spoke to my cousin, who lived with us; and she spoke to my brothers. My mother did not speak to me. That was my first encounter with rejection, abandonment and fear. I was a little girl who lived in the house with a mother who did not speak to her, ignored. I feel pain all over again, right now.
As the years went by, the feeling of rejection and abandonment would be all too familiar. I was a kid, I was messing up all the time, no matter how hard I tried not to. Many times, I didn’t mess up, I was just contrary to my mother’s way of thinking. We were never on the same page, so anything opposing her was a reason to be shut out of her world. As I grew, I would walk on eggshells, trying not to say the wrong thing, not to do the wrong thing, nothing that would cause my mother to go silent and ignore me. No longer was it just a couple of weeks, it had moved into a couple of months.
When I became pregnant with my oldest child, I told her through a letter, because she was not speaking to me. At 20 years old, I chose to go to the Superfest in Pasadena, to see Stevie Wonder, and not church. After my mother threatened to have me institutionalized for defying her, she shut down. That was through spring, in the summer I informed her that I was pregnant and she would not make me have another abortion (she took charge of my life and I had one, the previous year), if she wanted me to leave, I would. She spoke to me through written commands, finally using her vocal chords when she decided to give me a baby shower.
Throughout my marriage, there were many, many hard days. One reason, because I was being physically abused by my husband. Another, was because I was abandoned by mother. Physically abused by him and emotionally abused by them both. I had no friends, nothing. I was trying to survive in hell with two small children. It was no wonder I had not lost my mind. But thank God I didn’t!
As my children grew (I now had three), I didn’t know how to protect them from my mother’s anger. I never learned to protect myself. Because our household was different; there was nothing my kids could do to make me ignore them; they didn’t understand why I didn’t protect them, and my girls suffered worse than my son. Yet, my mother had no respect of person, so whenever she wasn’t speaking to my kids, she wouldn’t speak to me. When she wasn’t speaking to me, she wouldn’t speak to my kids. As my girls became mothers, they learned to stand on their own, and protect not only their children, but their nieces and nephews, as well. They tried to protect me, but I would not let them, in some sick way trying to not have them incur wrath on my behalf. They learned to speak up for everyone, and I cheered them on, but I did not know how to speak for myself. Whenever I would venture to protect my grandchildren, it became “you and your kids…” and she would shut out all 3 generations. Since anything could set her off, at any given time, I learned to exist on fragile ground.
When my mother told me she was moving in with me, I had been completely alone and loving it for only 2 years. All three of my children were married, living in their own homes, raising their own children and tragedy struck me. I didn’t know how to say “no” to my mother, and she had never learned to ask permission for anything. So years later, my mother is still living in my home.
During the past 6 years, there have been many instances of her abandonment. Although now, I no longer try to get her to speak to me; I have learned to go on my merry way. Yet the pain, although not acknowledged, still existed. I learned that the fear of abandonment, had worked its way into my friendships with women and relationships with men. I couldn’t understand what it was about me that others found it so easy to dismiss me. Why would they make plans with me, and then not follow through? Why was I not worthy of a phone call, or an explanation? Why did I remember their birthdays, yet mine was so easily forgotten? I wanted so badly to be wanted, that I allowed myself to be used and ignored by people that I really didn’t want to be with. I just didn’t want them to reject me!
As I explore this cavern, I understand the origin. I have gone back to the source of the pain. I have forgiven the behavior of a frightened little girl. I have given her the juice that she requested, so many years ago. I have held her in my arms, and told her that I am so sorry, that she was scared, but she was never alone. I have taken that little girl and placed her in the open arms of Jesus. He cradles her with love and whispers in her ear. She belongs to Him, He will always protect her. No one will ever again lie across her chest and try to pin her down. It’s all over. I am not rejected, I am chosen. I am not abandoned; but in the midst of angels encampeth around me.
I have never been the cause of my mother’s pain; I don’t know the source of her anger. I am good with that knowledge. There are holes in my past that will never be filled; things I will never know or understand. I don’t know how much time I have left with my mother; either of us can go any day. But if I am the one left standing, I want to remember my mother in happy way. Good morning, Heartache, pack your bags! Good bye Fear, hello Faith! There are things that I cannot change, but God is a God of evolution, and through Him, I am evolving into a bigger, better, stronger, chosen woman.
As a little girl, I didn’t fall too much. I didn’t have scrapes and minor cuts, those things that caused me to sing “I am stuck on band-aid brand, cause band-aid’s stuck on me.” Although I loved to sing the commercial, I had little use of the product. I do remember when the “ouchless” band-aid was revealed to the world. You know the kind, the adhesive doesn’t stick to the hair on your skin, so removal is easier, and the band-aid doesn’t have to be ripped off. Well, I have wounds, but the band-aid isn’t needed for the skin. It’s needed for the heart. The brand name I chose was “Neshephah” (Nay-shay-fah).
I had a friend, Nate, who studied the Hebrew language. He told me the name “Dawn” translated in Hebrew is “Nesheph”, meaning “dawning of the day”, or “morning twilight”. “Nesheph” is a masculine name, adding “ah” at the end makes it feminine. Hence, “Neshephah”. Nate would call me by this name, and I would use his Hebrew name.
At the time, I was dating a bass player who looked amazingly like the actor Tommy Ford, or “Tommy Strong” on the TV show, “Martin”. This working bass player was too broke to have a free email account, so I allowed him to have one of my AOL email accounts. Well, he proceeded to date other women by hooking up through my AOL account. He was also over 35, had no car, and still lived at home with his mother. This was the kind of man I attracted over and over again. I continued to give of myself, to compromise myself, to allow myself to be taken advantage of over and over again. How many times can the same thing happen before one questions their part in it?
One evening I sat at my computer and wrote something, I don’t remember what. I signed it “Neshephah”. I thought that would be a cool pseudonym for my writings. Then, I thought that it would be a cool name for me. In May of 2001, at the same time of breaking it off with the bass player, Neshephah was born. The first thing I did was tell my children to no longer introduce me as their mother, “Dawn”, but their mother “Neshephah”. I did the same for my friends and church family. I would start a job as “Dawn”, but be introduced as “Neshephah” on the first day. It worked out well, there were those who asked if using “Dawn” was okay; and there were those who had a hard time remembering my new name. I was particularly tickled when the older members of my church would use my new name. It made me love them, just that much more. The only person who made fun of my name was my mother. I was “Nefertiti”, “Aphrodite”, “Nefertility” and the like. One summer my aunt visited from Atlanta. All three of her children had changed their names and she referred to them by the new name. I asked her if it was hard to do that, because I had a hard time with my own mother. She looked shocked and said, “Absolutely not! It’s a matter of respect!” My turn to be shocked. Why did I have to demand respect? Why did I find it so hard to demand respect?
Now “Neshephah” needed a personality. She could not be like “Dawn”. She would not be a victim of abandonment, molestation, spousal abuse, or low self-esteem. She would stand at her full 5’7″, which has diminished to 5’6″. She would wear her hair differently. She would dress differently. She would speak of herself differently. She would think of herself differently. This would all take some work, but I set about it. It absolutely helped that my daughter was and is an A-1 hairstylist, so that was first thing I tried. I went into natural hairstyles, and my friends would comment: “That looks like a ‘Neshephah’!” I sought brighter colors in clothing, and stopped wearing colored contacts. I opted for interesting shapes in sun glasses. All the things outwardly that I wouldn’t allow myself to do before, I did. Inwardly, I took the time to tell myself how beautiful I actually am. I didn’t say it in passing. I would stand in the mirror and say something like, “wow, you are beautiful.” I would mean it from the inside to the outside. This helped me to stop looking for validation from others. Most of the time, it didn’t come anyway, and half of the time, it wasn’t sincere. I took a big leap of faith, and quit my job. I stopped driving an hour and half to work and 2 to 3 hours home from work. I increased my annual pay over $10,000 in less than 6 months.
I started dating someone that I really cared about, but this time, I let him show me first. Steve Harvey hadn’t written his book telling women that a man should “profess, provide and protect”, but I knew these were important factors for me. I had never required them as “Dawn”, but as “Neshephah” it was a requirement. This guy didn’t have much, but it felt like he gave me everything he had. Then it was over, no muss, no fuss. He decided to move back to Chicago. I knew then that he didn’t give me everything. So I shut it down. Clink-Clink!
That was February of 2004. I told God that I didn’t want it anymore, no more dates, no more heartache, heartbreak, nothing. If he wasn’t my husband, don’t let him come near me. I wanted to focus on being a grandmother; I wanted to live single without worry of whom I date or if I married; I wanted more of God. God should have always been my first priority, but He wasn’t.
During the past ten years, I have learned so much about God and myself. I can’t say how many times I’ve been laid off, yet never evicted. Had no money, but never hungry. Couldn’t walk, but never fell down. Endured horrible pain and agony, but never lost my smile. According to my doctor, I should not be able to walk on my treadmill, but I run on it (when I use it). I am left with chronic nerve damage in my leg, but I don’t limp. I have greater knowledge of God’s Word and know first-hand how He loves me. I have a testimony that I can’t keep to myself. I awake daily with a song of praise rolling around in my head.
So here we are, and it’s May again. Thirteen years have passed. My pastor delivered a message in his “Wounded Healers” series, it was entitled “Replacing My Labels”. I thought what perfect timing, because God has been dealing with me about “Neshephah”. I was starting to feel uncomfortable being called that name. I told one of my friends that I felt like Dawn and Neshephah were becoming one. When pastor called for those to come to the altar, those who were ready to drop the labels that they were carrying, I was one of the first to go. As I stood there praying, I doubled over and a knot formed in my stomach, I tried to stand but was hit with a powerful knot in my back which caused me to bend, again. I came out of my prayer concerned that I couldn’t move. Then I heard it, “Neshephah, no more.” See, sometimes God has to immobilize us so we can clearly hear Him. I began to cry because I truly felt emptied. No more guilt of what I had done, or hadn’t done based on someone else’s opinion or label of me. Not a victim of anything, but a victor over everything!
I have been feeling Dawn getting stronger. This band-aid “Neshephah” , is starting to irritate me, because the wound is healing. It’s not even a wound anymore, just a little sore. It needs some air, it needs some sun, it’s ready to become a part of the body and not an isolated spot that needs nursing. It’s time to rip off the band-aid.
When I was 19, I became pregnant. I was working, but I was not in school, my boyfriend had been given a General Discharge from the Navy about 4 months before. We were best friends from high school, and were both living at home with our parents. We sat at the dining room table with my mother; and we told her the situation. My mother told me that she was not going to take care of another person, and that I would be getting an abortion. She proceeded to tell me to find a clinic and set the appointment for that week. I didn’t blink, question, or debate. My mother told me what to do, I was under her household and under her rule. My opinion was not sought, there were no questions about plans. Abortion was the plan. Her tone of voice was as if I had been told to go the backyard and get my switch. It better not be so old that it would break during the whipping, and it couldn’t be so new that it was too limp to whip through the air. I knew that I had better do what I’d been told, or risk my mother withdrawing from me. I had experienced that too many times in my life, and I didn’t know if I could stand that, again.
My appointment was for Saturday of that same week, at 8:00 a.m. My mother dropped me off in front of the clinic and went to park. I had to cross the picket line of those in favor of life. I didn’t think about the life I was about to kill, my baby had become something that my mother didn’t want, and I was there because of that. My boyfriend was forbidden to know anything about when or where the abortion would take place, but I told him, anyway. I also told him that he was not allowed to come, please don’t come. He came through the door, before my mother had parked the car; and was sitting next to me holding my hand, when she came through the door. I was terrified, of my mother’s anger. I didn’t know what she would say, or what she would do. She said nothing, but the waiting room was full of her anger.
My name was called to speak with a counselor, before the procedure. Did I want to put the baby up for adoption? No. Did I want to have an abortion? No. I saw her check my paperwork for my age. She looked at me and asked why I was getting an abortion. I told her it was because my mother told me to. She opened her mouth to speak, then closed it. I still wonder what she wanted to say, but I believe it was something personal. I’m sure her job had forbidden the staff to speak on a personal level, or give any opinions.
I was surprised that my boyfriend was allowed in the car on the way home. He was dropped off at his house, and we never, ever spoke of that incident. No one spoke of it.
That next year, my son was born. Two months after his birth, his father and I married. One week after we were married, he hit me for the first time. I endured a horrible life with him for three years. During the time of the molestation revelation (spoken of in an earlier blog), I also relived the abortion. I had swept it under the rug. I wanted so badly to leave my mother’s home, that I jumped out out of the frying pan, and into the middle of the fire. I wondered if it was a boy or a girl, and I found myself mentally celebrating a birthday late in January.
A couple of years ago, my grandson spoke a powerful message to our church. He was all of eight years old. I felt the weight of guilt drop from my shoulders, as I watched and listened to him speak. I told myself that the abortion had to take place, so that he could come forth. I thought there had to be a sacrificial lamb, so that his father could be born. I knew that the circumstances surrounding my son’s conception could never happen again. He had to be born when he was, to be the age he was to meet my daughter-in-law in high school. All the stars had to be aligned as they were in order to get to the point in time for my grandson to stand on that Sunday morning.
This afternoon, a very good friend and I were in conversation about the affects of abortion. Basically, I told her that I was over my abortion, because I realized why it had to be done. She hit me hard: “How do you know that your son would not have been born, just as he is? We are not God.” Man! Again, I am in my cavern, digging into unexplored pain. Isaiah 55:8 says, “‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.'” (kjv) and 2nd Peter 3:8 says, “‘But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.'” (kjv)
When did I become the Creator? When did I become in charge of time, or timing? I am a lowly creature, reaching out to the Creator for forgiveness. I murdered a living being. I am seeking forgiveness anew. I told myself that the abortion was my mother’s fault, and I was obeying her. I am now forgiving myself for the act which led to a child out of wedlock, and aborting my baby.
My children’s father is no longer living; I cannot seek his forgiveness. I never asked him how he felt, I never asked him if he wanted to keep the baby. I never discussed anything with him. I blindly did what I was told. He was never consulted or considered. Worse yet, I never even thought of it until this afternoon! Almost 32 years later! I can’t help but think that he had unresolved anger towards me, which played a big part in his violence towards me. He and my mother never got along, and I often saw myself as a guest on Jerry Springer’s show; just sitting quietly in the middle, while my mother and husband fought around me. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, he beating me with his fists, she beating me with her words, and taking away her love.
So another cavern, another cave unexplored. I will keep digging, I need to know what else was aborted with my baby.
We are not broken vessels.